Week ahead

Southern Rail Image copyright PA
Image caption Will Southern Rail's performance be discussed at this week's Transport Committee session

There are strong signals this this is going to be Heathrow Week - with the government at least indicating its preference on the issue of airport expansion in the South of England.

Expect a massive row - the more so because a decision in favour of Heathrow expansion has already been heavily trailed.

Elsewhere, watch out for the next private member's bill in the Commons pecking order, with ministers under pressure to support Bob Blackman's Homelessness Reduction Bill.

After this week's increasingly irritable exchanges over the Sexual Offences (Pardons) Bill the government's approach to private members' bills is under scrutiny, not least because the Commons Procedure Committee is pressing for sweeping reform of the whole process.

Here's my rundown of the week ahead:


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Redundant bill?

What does the government's proposal to pardon gay men convicted in the past for sexual offences that would not be crimes now portend for tomorrow's private member's bill, proposed by the SNP's John Nicholson?

Mr Nicholson's bill aims to accomplish the same objective - for England and Wales, incidentally, it would not apply in Scotland. He thought he had government backing, with a promise of "no tricks" and when I spoke to him this morning, he was far from clear what was going on.

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Week ahead

Heathrow Image copyright PA

With continuing chatter about a possible announcement about Heathrow Airport expansion, it's possible that a statement from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling could provide the biggest parliamentary action of next week.

Otherwise it's a week of humdrum legislation, punctuated by some interesting-looking committee hearings - until we get to a crop of important private members' bills in both Lords and Commons, on the Friday.

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Brexit in Parliament: how future battles could play out

Brexit Image copyright PA

The Commons debate on Brexit - or at least on the need for proper parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit - is just an appetiser for conflicts to come.

One way or another, most politicians in the Chamber will spend the rest of their working lives grappling with the implications of the decision taken in June. And Parliament will certainly offer many channels for doing so.

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Week ahead

Theresa May Image copyright AFP
Image caption The prime minister's conference speech laid out some of the agenda for her premiership, which will be played out in Parliament in the coming weeks

Suddenly the legislative agenda before Parliament looks pretty small beer, set against the huge ramifications of Brexit - and the biggest parliamentary events of the coming week will probably be statements or urgent questions on some of the host of policy announcements made at the Conservative conference.

But there's also quite a lot of eagerly-awaited in-house business too: the timetable for elections to the new Brexit and International Trade Committees, and to replace Keith Vaz in the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee.

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Shedding a different light on Churchill

Mark D'Arcy and Lord Bew Image copyright Georgina Pattinson

Revered in this country as probably the greatest Briton, Winston Churchill is seen rather differently in Ireland.

On BBC Parliament's BOOKtalk this weekend, I'll be talking to the historian Paul Bew, a crossbench peer, about his new study of Churchill's lifelong relationship with Ireland.

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Week ahead

Schoolboys make their way to class at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Image copyright Getty Images

The torch of government has been passed to a new generation of ministers and all kinds of policies are changing.

Next week's political highlight looks likely to be the unveiling of the government's new policy on grammar schools (see Monday) but there will be plenty of other areas in which MPs will want to quiz the new Cabinet team on which previous policies remain operative.

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Who's in the chair?

Keith Vaz Image copyright HoC
Image caption A vacancy has arisen, following Keith Vaz's resignation as chair of the Home Affairs Committee

The departure of Keith Vaz means one of Parliament's plum jobs is up for grabs; as he demonstrated, the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee commands considerable influence and automatic media attention, and there is already speculation that a number of heavy hitters will go for it.

For now, the acting chair is the Conservative former minister, Tim Loughton (last seen leading Andrea Leadsom's march on Westminster, during the abortive Tory leadership campaign), but under the carve-up which dictates which party has the chairs of which committee, Mr Vaz's long-term replacement must be a Labour MP.

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Week ahead

Picture from 2002 of the Royal Navy"s Trident-class nuclear submarine Vanguard Image copyright PA

After the dizzying pace of events at Westminster in the three weeks since the referendum, exhausted MPs and peers are rather tottering to the end of term on Thursday.

But before they depart, there are a couple of major events lurking in the final week - the big one is the vote on building four new Trident submarines, to extend the life of Britain's nuclear deterrent.

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Soothing Brexiteers is the price to pay for party unity

Theresa May after Cabinet meeting Image copyright Getty Images

The Tory Brexiteers are pretty bruised. And soothing their contusions is now a necessary price for party unity.

Three weeks ago, when a Boris-Gove dream ticket seemed destined to take the reins of government, they looked like the new masters of the universe; then, one by one, their candidates to succeed David Cameron imploded - and now they see a prime minister who was on the Remain side in the referendum, and they wonder if their great Brexit triumph may now evaporate.

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